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Midwinter Paperback – March 24, 2009

3.5 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews
Book 1 of 2 in the Midwinter Series

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Not content with writing some of the best comic books on the shelves, Matthew Sturges has turned his amazing talents to prose fiction and the results are masterful. His prose work reminds me of Guy Gavriel Kay crossed with the audacity of Zelazny at his best." --Bill Willingham, Eisner award-winning author of Fables

"With the publication of Midwinter, readers are about to discover what comic fans have learned over the past few years, and what I've known longer than any of you--namely, that Matt Sturges is one of the most talented writers working today." --Chris Roberson, award-winning author of Three Unbroken and End of the Century --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Matthew Sturges's works include the comic book series House of Mystery, Shadowpact, Salvation Run, Countdown to Mystery, Blue Beetle, and the Eisner Award-nominated Jack of Fables, cowritten with Bill Willingham. His short stories have been published on RevolutionSF and in the anthology Live without a Net. He lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and two daughters.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 345 pages
  • Publisher: Pyr; First Edition edition (March 24, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1591027349
  • ISBN-13: 978-1591027348
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,607,504 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Kat Hooper VINE VOICE on March 10, 2009
Format: Paperback
I was attracted to Midwinter because of the beautiful cover art (by Chris McGrath) and the publisher's blurb. This sounds like my kind of story. Unfortunately, this novel didn't deliver what I was looking for, but it had so much potential that I hold out hope for future efforts from Matthew Sturges.

Midwinter starts out well. The prose is pleasant -- perfectly readable and without any pretensions. Usually this is the first place an author will lose me, but Mr Sturges didn't.

The main characters, especially Mauritane, Silverdun, Satterly, and Raieve, are intriguing and I was fully expecting to be drawn into their lives. However, I never was. Part of the problem was the third-person point of view that shifted unexpectedly. It never settled down long enough to examine the hearts of the key players. Some of the secondary characters such as Lady Anne, Queen Mab, Hy Pezho, and Purane-Es were given excellent characterization, so I know that Mr Sturges is capable. But, the main characters never opened up for me, so I felt like an outsider during their quest.

I also never quite felt the setting. It's midwinter and our heroes are traveling, eating, sleeping, and fighting outdoors in the snow, but I never felt cold. Most of the characters are fae and we are several times told how different they are from humans, but we are never shown how they are different (except that toward the end of the book we're told that they are drained by cold iron, and they have funny ears).

There are some flashes of imaginative brilliance (I loved the shifting areas in the Contested Lands, and the messages sprites were hilarious), but there are also a lot of elements that just seem weirdly cobbled together (e.g.
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Format: Paperback
In Matthew Sturges's own words, Midwinter is "The Dirty Dozen with elves." While that theme is well used across genres, it's one of my favorites because when it's done right it makes for great story-telling. So, I really expected to like this novel.

Midwinter started out strong. Immediately following the prolog, there's an awesome prison fight. But from that point on, the rest of the story was like being in a thick fog. Details are vague. There's nothing that seems particularly elfish about the elves. Winter is supposed to play such a big part, but I kept forgetting it was even cold. The pace alternates between moving too fast and getting side-tracked down boring and ill-fitting tangents.

Magic is so infused into this world that it warps natural order and has become part of almost all of the denizens. It's there when you need a light, when you want to give your horse the ability to talk, or when ya just want to make yourself look more fashionable, but for reasons never really explained, it may or may not be usable in a tight spot.

One of the important elements of Midwinter is a relationship between our real world and this land of the Fae. I tend to like having a link to our Earth in a fantasy story, but I found the introduction of our modern technology into this setting to be jarring -- almost laughable. Hey, I think a `71 Pontiac Lemans is one of the coolest cars of all time too, but that doesn't mean I want to find one in this sort of fantasy novel.

I'll readily admit that maybe I just didn't "get-it." If that's the case, it's because by the time I got to the last third of the book, I was too bored to even care anymore. For the Dirty Dozen theme to work, you have to make the reader care about the characters.
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Format: Paperback
This book left me really conflicted. I wanted to like it. Really. The plot seemed promising, the world interesting, the take on faerie refreshing, and the author hails from my favorite town, Austin, TX. At its core, Midwinter is a variant of the standard fantasy quest: our hero, a man of basic decency and moral character, is plucked from obscurity, entrusted with a suicidal task against enemies unknown, and accompanied by a cast of misfits, malcontents, and unreliables. Sturges embellishes the plot with some courtly intrigue (which never gets explained very well), parallel worlds (great idea, but again left somewhat undeveloped), and religious strife.

Despite my enthusiasm, the book never really delivered on its earlier promise. Just as I suspended my disbelief and became engrossed in the action, I would chance upon a scene or description that would gently nudge me back into the real world and make me aware that I was reading. Some of it is minor: for example, every character rolls his or her eyes at least once in the book. No matter how grave the scene, how dire the situation, someone finds a way to express their disapproval by rolling their eyes. Not only is it not believable in places, but because Sturges uses this turn of phrase so often, it feels contrived even when a good old fashioned eye roll seems quite appropriate. Then there are issues with presentation. The book is divided into chapters but could have used further subdivisions into sections. Think I am quibbling here? Just wait until you are merrily reading along and seemingly in the middle of a scene, with no typographical and spacing clues that the action is about to shift in both time and space, you are reading about the thoughts and doings of characters far removed from the preceding sentence in the same paragraph.
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